Jochen Bleicken

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Jochen Bleicken (born September 3, 1926 in Westerland , Sylt , † February 24, 2005 in Hamburg ) was a German ancient historian . He taught as a professor of ancient history in Hamburg (1962–1967), Frankfurt (1967–1977) and Göttingen (1977–1991). Bleicken is considered to be one of the most important researchers in the field of Roman constitutional and social history .


The son of the businessman Max Bleicken was an anti-aircraft helper from 1943 to 1945 and, after graduating from the Friedrich-Paulsen-Oberrealschule in Niebüll in 1947, studied history and classical philology from 1948 to 1954, first at the University of Kiel , then during the winter semester 1952/53 the University of Frankfurt am Main , where Matthias Gelzer , one of the best experts on the history of the Roman Republic, was teaching at the time. After returning to Kiel from there, Bleicken received his doctorate from Alfred Heuss in 1954 with a thesis on the Roman tribunate, which was published in an expanded version in 1955. From 1955 to 1962 he was research assistant to von Heuss, who had meanwhile accepted a call to the Department of Ancient History at the University of Göttingen . In 1956/57 Bleicken received a travel grant from the Commission for Ancient History and Epigraphy . In 1961 the habilitation took place with the work Senate Court and Imperial Court. In the following year he accepted a full professorship for Ancient History at the University of Hamburg , further stations were Frankfurt / Main (1967) and, as the successor of his teacher Heuss, Göttingen (1977-1991). Bleicken retired there in 1991 and held lectures until the 1998/99 winter semester.

Bleicken has been a full member of the German Archaeological Institute since 1969 , since 1971 a full member of the Scientific Society at the Johann-Goethe-University in Frankfurt am Main (after 1977 corresponding member), since 1978 a member of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen . Bleicken was co-editor of the series Frankfurter Althistorische Studien (since 1968) and Oldenbourg Grundriss der Geschichte, as well as the ancient science journal Hermes (since 1977).


One focus of Bleicken's work was the history of the Roman Republic , the Imperial Era and the beginning of late antiquity , for which he created numerous standard works, some of which were published repeatedly, including an extensive and highly regarded biography of Augustus in 1998 . The innovative significance of this work lay in the expansion of the one-sided legal and constitutional historical perspective in the tradition of Theodor Mommsen through the consistent inclusion of the social-historical perspective, as Bleicken had already practiced in his constitution of the Roman Republic and then in the title of his repeatedly published constitutional and Also illustrated the social history of the Roman Empire , which was the first work of this kind to take account of the expansion of Christianity. In this way, Bleicken gained a deeper understanding of the functioning of political systems and their legal institutions and was also able to better do justice to their development in the course of social changes.

In the area of ​​Greek history, he was primarily concerned with Athenian democracy , to whose analysis he was able to fruitfully apply the experience gained in dealing with Roman constitutional and social history. Bleicken's influential thesis of the uniqueness of Athenian democracy (“There is no history of democracy outside of Athens”) is today, however, in some cases critically questioned.

Exaggerating pathos and idealizations of all kinds were just as alien to him as working remote from the source dictated by ideological or methodological premises and theoretical debates. The fact that source-based work can only lead to reliable results on the basis of careful source criticism was a matter of course conveyed to him by his teacher Heuss. In addition to the traditional source-critical procedures - external criticism, immanent criticism, textual criticism , comparison of sources and clarification of the dependency relationships - he particularly emphasized the often insufficient attention to the need to analyze the traditional relationships in the depicted epoch and the interests of the time when the Swell. Especially for the early period, these often emerged only a long time apart and therefore, according to Bleicken, reveal more about the circumstances of their time of origin than about the reported events and facts from a distant past.

Like his academic teacher Alfred Heuss, Bleicken did not see himself as an ancient scholar or, first and foremost, as a specialist in the field of science, but rather as a historian who, with a substantial part of his writings and lectures, is not primarily concerned with the next generation of academics in his own discipline the specialist colleagues, but to the general public and to general historians, audiences from all faculties and student teachers, to whom he endeavored to provide scientifically sound historical orientation knowledge. Bleicken emphasized and recognized in his obituaries (e.g. that of Hermann Strasburger ) that the work of a historian inevitably also includes his life story, his specific experiences and his personality, with which he is responsible for his representation . Bleicken was firmly convinced that historical science necessarily had a subjective element, and when he attested to Hermann Strasburger that the “attitude of the objective spirit floating above all waters” was “alien” to him, this was no less true of himself.

In his later years in particular, Bleicken increasingly turned to the history of science , initially in detailed obituaries for important experts such as Matthias Gelzer , Hermann Strasburger and Alfred Heuss, but then also in overarching presentations. Here, too, it was primarily a matter of determining the position by reflecting on history, here of his own subject and the development of his knowledge-guiding interests, questions and methods, and thus also giving an account of the meaning of his own actions. In addition, there was also the endeavor to pass the personality and life performance of important scholars on to memory as role models and thus to provide an incentive to continue a scientific tradition, the endangerment of which, like his teacher Alfred Heuss, was clearly visible to him, although he was not with such a tradition Pessimism looked to the future like this one.

Bleicken felt very consciously the distance to the still "secret council" appearing, by an exaggerated claim to authority, specialized representatives of the older generation and criticized their refusal to deal with their role during the Nazi period and their tendency to play down the far-reaching cuts in the university and Science that the Nazi regime brought with it not least through the degradation, displacement and murder of numerous scientists.

Bleicken's pupils include Ernst Baltrusch , Theodora Hantos , Loretana de Libero and Jörg Spielvogel, as well as Hans-Joachim Gehrke , who received his doctorate from Alfred Heuss in 1973 and was his last assistant until 1977, but his assistant in 1977 Bleicken became his successor and remained so until his habilitation in 1982.

Fonts (selection)

A list of publications appeared in: Markus Merl, Uwe Walter (editor): Jochen Bleicken. Font directory. On the occasion of his 70th birthday. Schöningh, Paderborn 1996, ISBN 3-506-75516-1 ( online ).

  • The People's Tribunate of the Classical Republic: Studies of its Development between 287 and 133 BC Chr. (= Zetemata. Volume 13). Beck, Munich 1955. 2nd edition 1968.
  • Senate Court and Imperial Court. A study on the development of procedural law in the early principate. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1962.
  • State order and freedom in the Roman Republic (= Frankfurt ancient historical studies. Volume 6). Laßleben, Kallmünz 1972, ISBN 3-7847-7106-8 .
  • Lex publica. Law and Justice in the Roman Republic. de Gruyter, Berlin 1975, ISBN 3-11-004584-2 .
  • The constitution of the Roman Republic (= UTB for science. Volume 460). Paderborn, Schöningh 1975. 8th edition 2000, ISBN 3-8252-0460-X , ISBN 3-506-99405-0 .
  • Constitutional and social history of the Roman Empire. 2 volumes. Paderborn, Schöningh 1978 and more often.
  • Principate and Dominate. Thoughts on the periodization of the Roman Empire (= Frankfurt Historical Lectures. Volume 6). Steiner, Wiesbaden 1978.
  • History of the Roman Republic (= Oldenbourg outline of history . Volume 2). Oldenbourg, Munich 1980. 6th edition 2004, ISBN 3-486-49666-2 .
  • Athenian democracy. Schöningh, Paderborn 1986. 4th, completely revised and significantly expanded edition 1995, ISBN 3-8252-1330-7 .
  • Augustus. A biography. Fest, Berlin 1998. Special edition 2000, ISBN 3-8286-0136-7 .
  • Collected Writings. Edited by Frank Goldmann. 2 volumes, Steiner, Stuttgart 1998, ISBN 3-515-07241-1 .


Web links


  1. Webpage of the Scientific Society at the Johann-Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main .
  2. The discussion about the definition, criteria as well as the dating and localization of the beginnings of democracy began only recently. See Eric W. Robinson: Democracy beyond Athens. Popular Government in the Greek Classical Age. Cambridge 2011; the review by Charlotte Schubert, in: H-Soz-u-Kult , June 11, 2012, ( online ).
  3. Cf. Jochen Bleicken: History of the Roman Republic (see works below), pp. 105–114, as well as his pupil Dagmar Gutberlet: The first decade of Livy as a source for the Gracchian and Sullan times . Olms-Weidmann, Hildesheim u. a. 1985.
  4. See Jochen Bleicken: Obituary for Hermann Strasburger . In: Gesammelte Schriften (see works below), Vol. 2, pp. 1084-1091, here pp. 1087ff.
  5. ^ Jochen Bleicken: Obituary for Hermann Strasburger . In: Gesammelte Schriften , Vol. 2, pp. 1084-1091, here p. 1090.
  6. Cf. Collected Writings , Vol. 2, pp. 1002–1162.
  7. See Jochen Bleicken: Thoughts on Ancient History and its representatives . In: Gesammelte Schriften (see works below), Vol. 2, pp. 1149–1162; Justus Cobet: The scholar as a teacher in times of temptation. Address at the memorial service for Jochen Bleicken on October 29, 2005 in Göttingen. In: Göttingen Forum for Classical Studies. Volume 8, 2005, pp. 59-72 ( PDF ).
  8. ^ Directory of the dissertations supervised by Jochen Bleicken. In: Markus Merl, Uwe Walter (arrangement): Jochen Bleicken, list of publications: on the occasion of his 70th birthday . Schöningh, Paderborn 1996. ISBN 3-506-75516-1 , pp. 56-58 ( online ).